How to be shaded? Use a PLUG

We’ve all received unprovoked hate: Backhanded compliments and passive aggressive put downs, or “shade.” When people choose to be unkind without provocation, it might be a force of habit or hard wiring. Before I continue, I should say that like Britney, I’m not that innocent. I enjoy throwing shade at human energy drinkers, but only after they start with me.

In case someone you didn’t start something with goes out of their way to stomp on your joy, I wrote this post for you. By now you’re SMART (Sombre, Masterful, Attentive, Respectful, Tyrannical) about being hated. Often, tyranny is not the best option when in combat with Darth Shader. This post introduces a positive, self affirming response. To PLUG, we play, laugh, understand and grow from interactions with H8Rz.

Here we go? Let us PLUG.

Stay calm and PLUG
I love this meme. x SB

Play along
When the shade hits the fan, there are three ways you can play along. If you ignore unwelcome remarks, H8Rz will take this as a sign they’ve struck a nerve and dig in. So first,  keep a neutral expression and ask for repetition. (My neutral expression is a smile). I have a “third time and it’s yours” rule. I ask for repetition two times to see if the person will hear how their words sound.

If the person does not give up after the second repeat, I ask for clarification. Neutral expressions again. Defending yourself won’t work, either. If they haven’t given up at this stage, or try again later, they’ve owned it by default and I can do the third thing: Deliberately misunderstand, or get tyrannical.

For the former tactic, rephrase the statement to mean something positive about yourself. Toss it back. You will hear, “I didn’t mean to compliment you.” Say, “Thank you.” As in, “This interaction is over and thank you for your attention.” If the behaviour is repeated, that is hate and it’s time to put the T in SMART.

Laugh at yourself
Embrace the things that are uniquely you. See “shade” as acknowledgment that someone finds you interesting. Your sense of humour could win you admirers and defenders. One day, someone teased me with, “Hey, you’re walking like a pigeon.” It’s true, but that detail is inconsequential to anything happening in my day.

I played along by pretending this was a compliment. I laughed and said, “Thank you!” A different person piped in with, “Actually, she’s catwalking.” When you laugh at yourself, others may feel encouraged to warm to your side. Shine in confidence and leave haters in the shade.

You “love thyself” and your emotional set points are high. People who put you down without provocation have lower emotional set points. They may feel they’re doing you a favour. They believe that by pulling you off your perch they’ll help you avoid disappointment.

Resist the urge to adjust your emotions or responses to the lower setting. Also understand that H8Rz notice and admire your natural talent. Instead of doing their own work, they sling mud to throw you off your game. Stay focused.

Grow from it
Hanging on to unkind words can set you back. However, reflect on unpleasant interactions and think about how you want to be treated.  Then, set a better example by doing unto others. Make the effort to recognise negative characters and avoid them. Sometimes, you need to shine light on a person to see them for who they are.

I hope you’ll never need this advice. But if someone tosses shade your way, your objective is to firmly push back the disrespectful behaviour while keeping your hands clean. Play along and laugh to yourself but show some compassion and you will grow from the experience.


Unmarried women

Nowadays, I don’t want to give advice to women friends when they come to me about their troubled relationships. I listen and ask questions. I ask them to answer their own questions. I do this because I don’t trust them.

In the middle of dinner, the phone rings. Everything they’ve said about him ten seconds before is incorrect.

I’m happy now. I can’t stop texting to put this spoonful of risotto in my mouth. He’s just liked my photo on Instagram. Oh, and I have to leave before dessert; he’s coming over to smoke and complain about the draft in my apartment.

They’re going to meet their crappy boyfriends. After a brief reunification ceremony, they tell their crappy boyfriends what I advised them to do. When things devolve again, my phone rings: “Let’s go out for lunch.” They want to cry on my shoulder. So, I say nothing.

Don’t shake your head. You’ve done this to your friends, too.

The post before this one, Forty, presents an actual conversation. Some parts of it were fictionalised. I asked “N” to speak loudly into her iPhone while I was teaching her to use Siri. I sat across the room and transcribed everything we all said. Two days later, she was doing somersaults in the same space, before dyeing her hair green. “He called me to say he loves me.”

Fix it, Jesus.

One woman, who was “over it” wrote on her blog, “Why am I even bothering with relationships at all? He won’t “lock me in” as his girlfriend”. I noticed the disempowering phrasing: “Lock me in” as if relationships were a form of confinement. I guessed that she was happy with her boyfriend, but I wrote to her anyway:

Men can act like shit but it’s only because they know you won’t leave them. He knows you want to be serious and it’s making him feel secure. That’s why he’s being unkind. I see from a recent post you have a boyfriend. I wonder if it’s the same one?

I was not surprised when she reported that it’s the same boyfriend and he is awesome now:

He’s done a complete 180. I told him he needed to modify his behaviour and act like he’s in a relationship or I would be leaving and he would end up a lonely old man.

So, why do women ask for support for their nightmare relationships when they know they’ll reverse themselves as soon as the situation settles?

I can’t deal with y’all.

When was the last time you showed your back to a man you really liked? When he’s spent all of three minutes being there for you, you could say, “Go home, I am going to do something else.” You think he won’t come back, so you endure the small injuries to your dignity.

This attitude is driving women bonkers: “I will be a fakey-fakey nice girl, and tolerate bull or he won’t propose to me”. Acting fake to keep him interested is what self help books advise you to do. But when he finally proposes, you don’t realise he means to live happily with your avatar.

One fakey-fakey friend told me a week after her dream wedding she didn’t like anything about her husband. I realised that she was pretending to be in love the entire relationship. I will never forget the day we sat down over a lunch of lamb brisket and she asked me what next steps to take because she neeeeeds him. I said, get married. They did, five months later.

I feel that a lot of women suffer because it is stressful to keep up a facade. I wonder if a therapist would prescribe medication for women to get through the fakery? But is it medication we need or might it not be compassion for ourselves and for other women? Every time we pretend to be okay with his annoying habits, we nurture another grass fed nincompoop.

A man bragged to me that he’d written a comment on his law professor’s blog, who then used his first name in response. I said, “You’re a grown man. Why are you happy about being patted on the head like a small child? Instead of writing comments on your professor’s blog, consider writing a book of your own.”

Your boyfriend might not want to write a book, but without being rude, show him where he needs to set a high standard for himself as a person. If he doesn’t make the effort and you don’t like what is in front of you, let go.